Just when I thought the fall couldn't get any prettier, my drive into work today from Macon was simply breathtaking. The burnished beauty of the Georgia woods in early-mid November is something to behold. Most people justifiably marvel at the beauty of springtime in the midstate, but I happen to think that fall is our prettiest time of the year. As I neared the farm with the sun shining off the hickories, maples, and tulip poplars, I thought of Gerard Manley Hopkins' elegiac poem, Spring and Fall. Hopkins, by the way, was one of Flannery's favorite poets, and she no doubt resonated with this verse as she looked out her bedroom window:
"Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Alas, amidst the beauty that surrounds us here, life on this farm is a constant reminder of death. In the short time I've been at Andalusia I've become more keenly aware how death is the engine of life. All creatures, ourselves included, are dependent upon the death of another, for our survival (even if we're vegans). Last week, we lost one of our guineas to a hungry fox or a coyote. The night before last the same fate befell another hen. We are down to three birds now and are doing what we can to keep them safe. Admittedly, our options are limited.